• Creative Expression
  • High School
Cylinders & Shapes

“Mrs. Laurie can I…?”

For some, this may be a worrisome request. But for Mrs. Rhonda Laurie, a teacher who encourages creativity and inventiveness of all kinds, it is a welcome one. “You betcha!” She’ll smile proudly when she hears her students out.

This request means something has piqued their interest, that they’ve found something they want to look into and explore. When she introduced the Cylinders and Perspectives project in ProCreate to Grade 9 for the first time, she knew students would be asking this question, and that they’d be asking it a lot. 

Students started by learning how to draw spheres and cylinders with paper and pencil. Exploring different shapes, sizes, overlaps, perspectives and dimensions, Mrs. Laurie describes the learning as becoming masters of illusion. 

Some chose real-world objects, others ideas from their own imagination, but all of them made use of their illusionary new skills.

“We cannot make something two-dimensional into something three-dimensional,” she explains, “but we can learn tricks to make it look like it is!” As “magicians”, students learn how to use shading, luminosity, and perspective to create the appearance of something three-dimensional on paper by using distortion. After that, they used these new skills to draw whatever struck them. Some chose real-world objects, others ideas from their own imagination, but all of them made use of their illusionary new skills. After lots of drafts, practice and sessions, students were ready to draw, paint or crayon their draft creations. Then, it was on to the classroom set of iPads to digitize them.

Using the ProCreate app, students uploaded their art and began the gratifying task of digitization and digital design. “This is where the possibilities are,” Ms. Laurie explains of this new phase of the Cylinders and Perspectives project. Though the app comes with a steep learning curve, the rewards are well worth it. Students end up with limitless opportunities and the ability to create anything that comes to mind. And, if a creation doesn’t quite work, students can undo it in a few easy clicks. Taking away the downsides of risks like messing up your art and having to erase unintentional mistakes encourages students to be more adventurous and unafraid. “Layers and the ‘undo’ button make them brave by allowing them to take more risks with their work,” Mrs. Laurie says. Once students discovered the vast range of tools, brushes, effects, layers and stamps available in the app (plus a whole lot more) they were off, learning intuitively and less reliant on teacher input. Students explored, made discoveries, and shared their findings amongst one another. It was, as Mrs. Laurie puts it, a “beautiful thing to see.” 

As an art teacher with over 20 years of experience, Mrs. Laurie knows that it is self-exploration and intuitive risks that develop students’ abilities and styles the most. In ProCreate, overlapping and shadows, blending and smudging, opacity and colour design can all be easily explored, tried out, developed, or erased. “These projects lend themselves to ProCreate because there are so many options for design, so students get to really learn how to use the app while also having fun,” Mrs. Laurie concludes. “They can share ideas, cross-pollinate, and take risks.”

Grade 9 Student Reflections

“After drawing spheres in perspective, I now understand how to create depth in my artwork by using shading, overlapping, positioning, and blending. For example, by overlapping a mushroom house over the background and the planet, it looks like the mushroom is sitting on the planet, and with the shading and blending, you can start to see how the mushroom house isn’t flat and it curves in a cylindrical shape.” Tara C.

“Little details exist everywhere in the real world, so adding small details into the art can make it seem more realistic than it was before. Such as when I used a textured brush to colour the planet’s surface, it gave off the effect of the surface being covered in dust or something of the sort. If I didn’t have texture, the planet would look smooth and boring, and very cartoon-like. Small details also give the work a feeling of atmosphere, such as when I added stars to my piece.” Keni L.

“With digital art, I have the power to use custom brushes and select any colour and texture that I wish to use. I even have the ability to use an undo button and layers (which made my life a load easier). In this project, I realized that I have the capability to create wonderful pieces of art, and I am really proud of what I have done. I learned how to properly shade, create horizon lines, create holes and utilize perspective to make something look three-dimensional.” Austin C.

“Little details affect the art piece because the person looking at it will notice that it seems more interesting if there are little details in it; little details make the artwork more complete.” Julin L.